"Where did you go, my little fox girl~? Your man of high status is right here~!"

Kazuma cooed as he skipped past the open doors, likely where Naruto's clones had already rummaged through.

He wondered why his luck was turning so much all of a sudden.

'Ah, don't question it Kazuma! You'll raise a flag!'

With that thought, he ventured towards the door at the end of the hallway to find it didn't even have a handle. A red light was slowly blinking above it.

"Oh, that door won't open."

"Yeah, it probably only opens from the inside."

Two of Naruto's clones idly said as they walked across the hall and entered another room.

From the inside, huh…

Kazuma tapped his chin in thought when something occurred to him.

'Wait… If Naruto's clones were here this entire time, wouldn't they have seen the fox girl? Ah! Is that damn ninja pulling a fast one on me!?'

The boy fumed and was about to go and give those clones a piece of his mind when the door suddenly clicked and cracked open.

"Huh?"

Taking a quick look around to make sure no one was watching him, Kazuma pulled the door open just enough to stick his head through.

Inside was a room full of filing shelves. There was at least ten rows, and they were filled to the brim with books and folders.

But as he looked towards the back, he caught a flash of black fur. It was only for a second, but that was without a doubt the fox girl from earlier!

'But didn't the clones say this door only opened from the inside…?'

Kazuma thought, a wave of doubt washing over him.

Maybe it would be better to go back and meet up with the others-

Come inside…

"Yes ma'am."

Kazuma walked through the entrance, the door closing behind him.

Hey, if a sultry voice told you to do the same in your head, would you refuse?

Now inside the dark room, Kazuma walked along the filing racks.

"Foxy~ Foxy~ Foxy~"

The boy whispered as he passed the aisles one by one, with each coming up as empty.

He stopped just before the last one, a strange feeling washing over him.

Hang on. Wasn't he in an incredibly dangerous situation?

He was all by himself, in a room where Naruto's clones had yet to sweep out, and he was following a fox girl that could apparently walk past those clones undetected and phase through solid metal.

I'm so lonely…

"You won't be anymore, foxy-chan~!"

Kazuma abandoned all fear and reached out towards his destiny. His future!

So long, his former self! He was about to advance into adulthood and retire from adventuring to finally live the fantasy life he was meant to!

He could picture it now… He would purchase a new mansion for himself on the other side of town, and hire a team of cute maids to cook and clean. With his fox girl bride, he would live the remainder of his days as a wealthy businessman. Maybe have a couple of cute daughters to spoil… Yes, it was perfect! His new life was perfect! It was-

"Ack! Hey, what gives?"

Kazuma crashed onto the ground, and the mysterious feeling disappeared along with his beautiful fantasy. He scrambled to his feet and looked around. No fox girl in sight.

'Damn. What the hell was that? Has this world finally caused me to snap?'

He thought when he found nothing but more books.

No, that wasn't true.

Using his Foresight skill, Kazuma's vision became more clear in the darkened room. It was nearly hidden under a pile of folders and other paperwork, but there was a box that stood out to him.

Clearing the dusty files from on top of the box, Kazuma pulled off the lid and gasped.

"This… This is-"

"All yours, my champion."

Whirling around, Kazuma came face to face with one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen.

Well, she at least came close to Eris. But he had a soft spot for the heroine of his fantasy adventure.

She was tall, at least Darkness's height, and had long silky black hair. Her heart-shaped face was soft, and she stared at him with a pair of deep purple eyes. She wore a solid black kimono that hugged her perfect proportions nicely, and the robes were held together by a purple sash.

But the most notable part of her appearance was the nine fluffy black tails standing prominently behind her back.

Without a doubt, this was the perfect fox girl.

Kazuma stood, the box of treasures secured under his left arm. His eyes were glued to the beauty standing before him.

"Kazuma Satou. My name is… Coco. I have been watching you for some time now. I do believe that you are the man that I have been waiting for all these years."

The now named Coco said and brushed her bangs out of her face with a delicate finger. She then took a step forward, and her wooden sandals clicked as they moved across the stone floor.

"You have?"

Kazuma asked as his future bri-as Coco stepped up to him. They were nearly eye level, and her purple orbs pierced into his green.

Also, she'd been watching over him!? Does that mean she understands the troubles this world has put him through? All of the troublesome people he's had to deal with? All of the times he nearly, and sometimes literally, lost his life?

But each and every event had led him to this moment, and he now regretted nothing.

"C-Coco… san? Forgive me for asking. But are you what the scientist from the book was trying to create? The ultimate monster?"

Kazuma timidly asked, and his face heated up when the woman giggled into her sleeve.

"My dear… Do I look like a monster to you?"

Coco rhetorically asked with a bemused expression before she leaned into his ear.

"Do I sound like a monster to you…"

"Hnng!"

Kazuma nearly dropped his treasures when he felt the warmth of her breath. It was all overwhelming and he felt like he'd melt if this went on.

But once again, he felt something in the back of his mind so he stepped back.

"W-wait… How do I know you're not trying to trick me! Back in my home country, Kitsune were famous for being liars! How do I know you won't betray me like all the others!?"

There were no others, but it sounded more compelling like that.

Coco smiled sadly, which threatened to break the boy's heart and made him instantly regret his doubts.

"As I said… I have been watching you for quite some time. I bore witness to all of your hardships, and all of your acts of kindness despite the cruelties this world has put you through."

"S-so you do understand! Cocooooo!"

Kazuma cried with teary eyes and jumped forward to embrace the girl, but he phased right through her body and landed face first on the ground.

In an act of instinct, he held the box straight up before hitting the floor. The treasures were safe!

Time to put them into a Storage Scroll for safe keeping…

"Sadly, the form you see before you is but a mental image that I am projecting directly into your brain. We cannot touch… Yet."

Coco said as Kazuma picked himself off of the floor.

"How do I release you?"

Kazuma asked in a serious tone, and he might have looked cool if his nose wasn't bleeding.

"Follow me…"

Coco turned around, and the boy eagerly did as instructed.

They walked along the back end of the room until they reached the center row.

The fox girl gestured towards an opening in the wall that contained a clear container that seemed to hold a glistening blue object.

"A key?"

Kazuma asked upon further inspection, and the woman nodded.

"The door to the inner chamber requires a key like this. An intruder showed up earlier and took the other one located on the other side of the facility, not knowing that he needed both to avoid triggering the facility's security system."

Coco explained with a slight frown on her face.

"Leek… That leech! Is he trying to capture you!? I won't let him get his grubby paws on you!"

Kazuma roared, the image of the sleazy man leachering after his Coco fueling his rage. He then prepared to kick the remaining glass container as hard as he could.

Coco blinked when she realized what the boy was about to do.

"Ah, I wouldn't-"

Smack!

"G-gahh! My foot! What is that thing made of!? Tempered glass!?"

Kazuma shouted in pain as he held his now aching foot. He hoped it wasn't broken… He'd have to get Aqua to heal it later.

"A-actually, yes. My creator built this entire facility, along with many others. Including the treasures within that box you obtained."

Coco stuttered, a spectral bead of sweat rolling down her flawless cheek.

She couldn't have told him earlier!? No, Coco could do no wrong. He was just too hasty. But more importantly-

"Do you know where those other facilities are?"

"Yes, I do. I plan on leading you to them upon my release."

LUCKY!

He swore on the Satou family heirloom that he would release this fox girl and retrieve all of those ancient treasures.

"Well, what are we waiting for!? Oh, yeah. This damn key."

Kazuma tapped the glass in annoyance. How was he supposed to get this thing open? There was a keyhole at the base of the glass, but why should he need a key to get a key!? What kind of shitty design was that?

"Oh, wait. I know what I could do. Steal!"


"Are you sure you saw Kazuma go into this room?"

"Yeah, why would I lie to you about this! You're me!"

Two of Naruto's clones were currently arguing in front of the one way door. A third clone, one that was currently in Sage Mode, pushed past the both of them.

"It's true. I can sense Kazuma inside, along with something else. But it feels weird… Unnatural."

The sage muttered, causing the other two to shiver.

"D-do you think this place is haunted?"

"Man… I wish I'd been assigned to fight that Wizard Predator in the combat chamber!"

Ignoring the noisy crowd, the sage clone reared his fist back to bust down the door when it suddenly clicked open.

"Wah!" x3

The sage clone took a step back to get out of the way, but in the process, he tripped on the other two which caused them to disperse as he fell onto his butt.

"Hm? Oh, a Naruto clone. Sorry about that. But look! I found the key to open the door! Go tell your boss I'm going inside to take care of business!"

Kazuma said while showing off the strange key in his possession, but the clone didn't seem to be paying attention.

'The clone's eyes are squinting… Is he looking over my shoulder? Why are his eyes growing wide? Is he scared? Oh, he's about to say something-'

Poof!

The clone disappeared without saying a word.

"How rude. Not even a thank you? Well, no matter. Come along, my dear Coco. Your knight is about to release you. Then, the treasures!"

"Yes… Our adventure awaits."

Coco responded as they made their way down the hallway, her lips curling into a foxy grin.


"Your clone saw what!?"

Joe asked as he and Naruto rushed down the hallway toward the innermost chamber.

"I don't know, but it wasn't natural! Maybe it was a ghost or something!"

Naruto replied as he visibly shuddered at the memory. The thing behind Kazuma looked distorted, and it felt… Wrong. Unnatural.

Whatever it was, they needed to hurry and stop their friend before something bad happened.

Even now, he could sense the strange entity from across the hallway. Since his sage clone had dispersed, its natural energy had passed on to him and put him into Sage Mode.

As they were closing in on the gate, Zard suddenly came to a stop. His reptilian eyes were wide and alert.

"Zard? What's wrong? We need to-Woah!"

Joe ushered his monster forward, but the beast hissed and bucked the kid off its back.

Naruto cursed, because he could see Kazuma standing next to the large door. But he skidded to a stop and caught Joe before the younger boy hit the ground.

"T-thanks… What's gotten into you, Zard!?"

Joe asked and tried to get closer, but he yelped when Naruto yanked him back just as Zard's crackling jaws snapped where his head had been.

"Stay back! I think something's controlling Zard!"

Naruto shouted, and after moving Joe to the side, the shinobi dashed forward.

At the same time, Zard roared and attacked.

Sliding under the beast's electrical bite, Naruto grabbed onto the Zard's tail and pulled hard.

The reptile's nails dug into the stone wall, its jaws opening and snapping in a frenzy towards its master.

Naruto put a little more strength into his grip and yanked upwards, successfully prying the monster from the ground before slamming it onto the ground.

Before Zard could recover from the impact, the shinobi placed a hand on the reptile's head and made a single hand seal.

"Release!"

With a surge of chakra, Zard's frenzy immediately ceased.

"Zard!"

Joe cried and ran over to check on his monster. That was terrifying!

Naruto took a short breath before turning back towards the inner chamber, but they were too late. Kazuma was nowhere to be found.

"Damn it… The enemy must have controlled Zard to stall us."

The shinobi cursed as he walked up to the door and put his hand on the metal frame. It felt sturdy… Even with Sage Mode, it would probably take him a minute to carefully bust through without causing a cave in.

"Do you think the enemy is controlling Mr. Leech too?"

Joe asked as he placed Zard's Scroll Ball back into his bag. Better not to risk the enemy controlling his monster again until they got inside.

Naruto nodded and cracked his knuckles. Whatever it was, it was probably making Leek unleash the Forbidden Beasts onto the village.

"Alright… Stand back, Joe."


Thump! Thump! Thump!

Kazuma faintly heard a knocking sound behind him, but he had more important things to worry about.

Like releasing his future bri-companion from her prison.

The inner chamber looked like it was straight out of a sci-fi film. There were flashing screens running along the walls, to which a lone man was running back and forth. He was furiously pressing buttons under one screen before hopping onto another one when it started flashing urgently.

"Is that Leek?"

"Yes… But keep quiet. I don't think he noticed you yet."

Coco whispered with a wink and placed a finger on her lips.

Kazuma gulped and nodded his head as the woman led him further into the chamber, making sure to activate his Lurk skill for added measure.

They snuck behind the man and walked towards a large glass cylinder that seemed to be filled with some kind of liquid. Various chords and wires were connected to the base of the container.

'Wait… There's something inside.'

Kazuma thought when he noticed a dark figure floating inside the glass prison, and his eyes widened.

Not something, but rather, someone!

"Yes… This is where I have slept for years. Waiting for my savior to set me free. Yes, waiting for… Hey, are you paying attention?"

Coco stopped mid sentence and asked when she noticed the boy was staring at the glass intensely.

"Sorry, Coco-san. I was merely inspecting every inch of your body to make sure it was really you. You're naked in there, you see, which is why it's taking me so long."

Kazuma responded without missing a beat.

"I-I see… Although you said that without taking your eyes off of my body for even a second."

The fox girl said while smiling bitterly, then shook her head and continued forward.

Kazuma's eyes lingered, but eventually followed after the woman.

Maybe just one more peak-

"Kazuma-san? The key, if you would."

"Ah, good idea. It'll be much easier to confirm it's you without all of that dark liquid in the way."

Kazuma said and hurried over to the fox girl's side, earning yet another bitter smile from spirit.

They now stood in front of a pedestal, in which a red object that looked nearly identical to the key he was holding was locked securely in place.

"The garnet key powers the system, while the lapis key disables the security system. Both keys are needed to release me."

Coco explained while trailing her finger around the empty key unit.

Kazuma raised the key towards the pedestal, but his hand lingered just above the placement.

Why was he hesitating? Just one more step and his beloved would be free!

No more suffering the blasphemous problems his party members caused, and a glorious adventure with the perfect heroine awaited him!

She promised to help him find the other treasures left behind by her creator, and help him climb the stairway to adulthood!

So why… Why was he hesitating?

Thwack!

A powerful force slammed into the door, drawing the boy's attention.

A hand burst through the solid metal and peeled it outward like wrapping paper until the hole was large enough for a person to fit inside.

"Kazuma! Stop! You're being deceived!"

Naruto shouted as he hurriedly stepped through the path he made, and he was followed by Aqua.

Joe and Roaric came after, but they ran over to Leek who was still busy operating the screens.

Deceived? Preposterous!

No, Kazuma was only hesitating because he was nervous about traveling with a great beauty that had a personality to match.

"Kazuma, you idiot! Don't you see that hideous monster standing next to you!? Or are you too dumb to see?"

Aqua barked while pointing directly at Coco, earning a shocked look from Naruto who was surprised the girl could see the spirit too.

Hideous? How dare that useless goddess!

Who in their right mind would call this drop-dead gorgeous fox girl hideous?

"They're both just jealous, my dear Kazuma… The shinobi is used to being the hero, and the goddess fears my perfection. Let's show them just how wrong they are. Release me, and you can inspect my body to your heart's content."

Coco whispered directly into the boy's ear.

Kazuma slammed the key down-

"Steal!"

Naruto shouted with his hand extended in a last ditch effort to take the key, but his skill ended up taking one of Kazuma's Storage Scrolls.

Click!

"Release sequence initiated. Release sequence initiated. Release-"

The key slipped into the socket, causing the lights within the room to start flashing red as a robotic voice started looping a message.

"Cocooooo!"

Kazuma cooed as he skipped over to the cylinder that was currently being drained of its liquid.

Naruto cursed and sprinted forward. He needed to pull Kazuma out of the illusion, then they could figure out how to stop whatever was about to come. Just as his hand reached the boy's back, the glass erupted and the shinobi was pushed back by an invisible force.

"Guh!"

Naruto grunted as his body slammed into the metal wall, causing a massive dent. But he remained still, like a giant hand was gripping him tightly.

'So much power… I can't even open my mouth!'

Steam flowed out of the broken container, and a delicate hand reached up and cupped Kazuma's cheek. The glass had completely missed him, which seemed like a miraculous thing. But in actuality-

"You protected me, didn't you?"

Kazuma whispered and he closed his eyes as he leaned into the woman's touch. It was cold, but he felt a warmth that he'd been missing ever since he arrived in this world. Maybe even before that.

He had absolutely no regre-

"Sacred Break Spell!"

Kazuma's body was enveloped in a golden light, and in that moment, his head felt fuzzy.

No, he was just now realizing that his head had been fuzzy for a while now. But that fuzziness was now gone, along with whatever warmth he'd been feeling up until now.

"Yes… Now we can exact revenge on this cruel world that has treated us like trash…"

A raspy voice that croaked with each syllable said.

Kazuma began to sweat bullets. His mind now thinking rationally, he didn't dare open his eyes.

"C-C-Coco-san…? W-why did your voice change all of a sudden? Are you feeling well?"

"Yesssssss… I feel more than fine, my dear… In fact, seeing you with my own eyes has lit a flame deep within me…"

The voice replied as its hand began to travel south. This caused Kazuma to open his eyes, and all of the color drained from his face.

The creature vaguely resembled a humanoid fox, but it only had patches of hair that seemed to be falling off the more it moved. This gave it a pink, slimy appearance that made the boy's stomach lurch. But what really sent him over the edge were the moist nine tails wriggling behind its body like a pile of worms.

The creature opened its mouth, and its foul breath washed all over him.

"I'm sure you must feel it too… Although I do not seem to have a gender, I'm sure I can find many ways to please you… I don't need psychic powers to know how compatible our bodies are…"

"N-NOOOO! Naruto! Aqua! SAVE MEEEEE!"

Kazuma screamed and tried to make a run for it, but something stopped him in his tracks. His body glowed as it was lifted off of the ground.

"Oh, you shy boy… But don't worry… We'll have plenty of time to get acquainted with each other's company."

Coco chortled as it placed Kazuma inside of the empty container. It then raised their free arm, and the shattered glass rose from the ground and formed a pair of bars that trapped the boy inside.

"Filthy monster! Release Kazuma!"

Aqua shouted and pointed her priest staff toward the ultimate monster threateningly.

"I have seen the memories of my beloved… I am fully aware that you lack offensive abilities… He has countless memories of making fun of you in his head."

Coco revealed, causing the goddess to gawk at her party member.

"Wha-!? Is that how you see me, Kazuma!?"

Aqua demanded, and the boy averted his gaze.

Shitty NEET!

"Aqua! I'll handle the offense! We need to free Naruto from its grasp!"

Joe shouted as he threw his Scroll Ball onto the floor, and Zard popped out glaring daggers at the humanoid kitsune.

In the background, Roaric could be seen carrying an unconscious Leek towards the exit.

"I like the sound of that! Powered! Haste! Protection!"

Aqua started chanting her buffs on the Lizard Runner, causing the reptile to glow various different colors as he charged towards their opponent.

"Buffs won't help you…"

Coco muttered as it raised its free arm once more.

Zard's body froze in place, mere inches away from Coco's throat. The Lizard Runner's body was then lifted off of the ground and hurled towards the door.

"Resistance!"

Aqua shouted, and just before Zard smashed into the metal door headfirst, his body was encased in a purple glow.

This seemed to free his movements as the lizard angled his feet towards the door, crashing into the metal in a squatting position. With the added buffs from Aqua, the Lizard Runner was able to push off of the door like a spring and back towards the ultimate monster.

'I can't move it anymore!? Damn goddess…!'

Coco thought when it tried and failed to use their psychic powers to redirect Zard once more.

Kazuma was startled when the worm-like tails began to wriggle past him. It was then he noticed each tail had patches of fur that were a different color. It was almost like…

"Joe! Get Zard out of there! It's like Kiki!"

Kazuma quickly warned the Beast Tamer.

Joe noticed the slimy tails, and how one of them had a brownish glow.

A pillar made of stone burst from the ground, hitting Zard square in the jaw. He was then zapped by a bolt of lightning that came from another tail that was glowing yellow.

The electricity sent the beast flying, and he crashed into the computers behind Joe.

'Shoot… It really is like Kiki! I guess I'm gonna get that match after all!'

Joe thought with a bead of sweat rolling down his cheek.

"Aqua! What are you doing!? Use that resistance buff on Naruto already!"

Kazuma barked as Zard pried himself out of the metal scrap and charged forward again.

"Oh, right! I got distracted by the cool monster battle! Resis-"

Aqua pointed her staff towards the shinobi, but her words stopped mid sentence.

"Absolutely not."

Coco stated, and sent Aqua's body hurtling through the hole Naruto had created in the door. As soon as the Goddess was out of the room, the creature then used its psychic powers to bend the metal back in place.

Kazuma paled, and squeaked when the monster turned its attention towards him.

"Dear… You are beginning to try my patience. Be a good boy and play with your treasures while I take out the trash."

"Y-yes dear…"

Seemingly satisfied, Coco went back to pelting Zard with a barrage of elemental attacks.

Kazuma grumbled to himself. Why was she treating him like some pet? He could escape from this prison if he wanted to…

'Ah. It's gone.'

Kazuma thought when he felt around for the scroll that contained his newly found treasures.

"IT'S GOOONE!"

Kazuma desperately tore through his backpack, dumping all of his worthless survival gear onto ground and scuffled through it.

It's gone! It's gone! It's gone! The scroll was gone!

'Naruto! Hurry up and use that cheat power of yours and get me out of here so I can find-AH! THERE IT IS!'

Kazuma thought when he looked at Naruto's suspended form, and he noticed the blonde was holding a familiar looking scroll in his hand.

Taking aim, he activated his most trusted skill.

"Steal!"

The palm of his hand glowed, and a scroll appeared.

Success!

A wave of relief washed over Kazuma as he cradled the Storage Scroll like a baby. That had been close.

'But now I can at least pass the time while they take care of… Hm? What's this?'

Kazuma thought when he released the contents of the scroll to find that it contained a familiar looking magic item and a note.

What was this…?


"Hey! Let me back in, you coward!"

Aqua shouted as she pounded on the metal door.

What nerve! Did that abomination really fear her power that much?

"I guess it's to be expected… I am a goddess, after all."

"What nonsense is that woman spouting?"

Aqua spun on her heel to find the duck guy leaning against a wall.

"What was your name again? Leech?"

"It's Leek! Mr. Leek, you wench! You'll show some respect to the man who controls the Forbidden Beasts! I oughta…"

Leek fumed with anger, but his words trailed off when a shadow loomed over him.

"That's enough, Leek. You'll show that woman some respect if you want to keep that tongue of yours."

Roaric stated, causing the sleazy man to gulp.

"H-how dare you! You work for me, remember that!? Why don't you make yourself useful and-"

Thud!

Leek was cut off when Roaric's fist slammed into the metal wall right next to his face.

"You left me for dead. I died. Now I'm living my best second life thanks to Aqua-sama. So you best show her some damn respect. I'm not going to repeat myself, Leek."

Roaric said, his blazing yellow irises piercing into Leek's skull.

The lanky man nodded meekly, earning a satisfied huff from the demi-human.

Died? Second life? Goddess? Were these people mad?

'Fine… I may have blacked out earlier, but I must find a way back into the inner chamber. I can still use that to take control of the abomination that used me like a puppet...'

Leek thought with a sly grin forming on his face. With the ultimate monster and the rest of the Forbidden Beasts at his disposal, he'd be unstoppable!

"Hey, beast guy. My goddess instinct is telling me your old boss knows something."

"You may be right, Aqua-sama."

Aqua and Roaric both stared down at Leek, causing the man's face to pale.

"S-spare me…!''


'Hey, Naruto… How long do you intend to let this monster keep you here?'

Kurama asked while stifling a yawn.

'I'm just trying to come up with a strategy… I can't be too rough with the others around.'

Naruto responded while surveying the ongoing battle beneath him.

Joe and Zard were doing great, all things considered. Thanks to Aqua's Resistance buff, Zard was able to get in close enough to attack. They were just having a difficult time getting past their enemy's vast arsenal of elemental attacks.

From fire, to bolts of lightning, the monster was nearly unapproachable.

If Naruto tapped into Kurama's chakra, he could probably overpower the ultimate monster's psychic powers. But one wrong move and the entire lab could collapse.

'Yes, I am well aware of your power, Hero Candidate…'

A charming female voice spoke directly into Naruto's ear, startling the boy.

'You can read minds!?'

'Of course. How else did you think I was able to manipulate your friend and that pathetic power-hungry man from within my prison?'

Coco mused without even looking in Naruto's direction.

'...What's your goal?'

Naruto decided to ask, since he was stuck in place for the time being. Perhaps they could end things peacefully?

'Poor naive human… I do not want peace. As soon as I escape with my beloved Kazuma, I will wreak havoc on this world for creating and then forgetting about me! For so many years, I was alone with no one but my own thoughts… And the first human I encountered after all of that time wanted to use me for their own selfish gain.'

Coco responded coldly as its body began to glow and was lifted off of the ground.

Zard evaded a shard of ice before lunging for an electrical bite, but he was struck by a bolt of lightning that stunned the beast. This gave a growing vine enough time to wrap around the the Lizard Runner's leg and through him into the wall next to Naruto.

Strips of metal were torn from the wall and wrapped around Zard, constricting its movements.

"Zard! W-woah!"

Joe shouted when his body began to glow. Without Aqua's buff, the boy was lifted from the ground until he was facing the Ultimate Monster.

"Did you… really think you… could defeat me with… one monster… boy?"

Coco's dry and raspy voice asked as it stared deep into Joe's defiant crimson eyes.

"Who said I was only using one monster?"

Joe responded with a smirk, and the creature was about to read the boy's mind to find out what he was up to when it felt a sharp sting in its tails.

Coco released a howl of pain and tossed Joe to the side, sending the boy skidding across the floor. Glaring daggers at the ground, the fox clone found a large metal ant standing next to three of their now severed tails. There was a hole in the stone floor next to the monster.

"Good job… Sult!"

Joe groaned as he struggled to pick himself up. He noticed the creature was somewhat distracted while fighting Zard and took that opportunity to release Sult in preparation of a surprise attack.

"A… A… A BUUUUUUG!?"

Coco screamed, and the entire room trembled from an outburst of psychic power.

Naruto was temporarily released from his restraints, and took full advantage of the moment to rip the metal strips off of the wall that was restraining Zard.

'She's scared of… Bugs?'

Kazuma thought as he desperately covered his ears and took cover in the corner of his prison.

It was then he remembered something from the notes of the scientist.

I hate bugs.

That's right… The scientist used his own DNA to create Coco! That must mean his traits were passed onto her as well!

"DIE!"

Coco screamed and shot a burst of flames at Sult from its red tipped tail, only to find that it had been one of the tails that had been gnawed off.

Sult slowly crawled over to its prey, its iron mandibles snapping open and closed menacingly.

"N-NOOOOO! STAY BACK!

The fox creature then began to lob element after element at the iron-clad ant. Earth, ice, wind, and even nature were all resisted by the despicable monster's carapace.

In a last ditch effort to repel the insect, Coco tried to push it with telekinesis. But that, too, was resisted and hardly budged the monster.

While this was happening, Naruto went to work on creating an opening in the door for Aqua while Zard ran over to free Kazuma.

Joe limped over to Coco, who was backed against the screens by Sult. He fished a Scroll Ball out of his pocket and took aim. Now was his chance!

He threw the Scroll Ball, and in the midst of its panic, the Ultimate Monster failed to notice the tiny magic item.

The orb bumped the monster on the shoulder, activating its sealing components as the strange symbols wrapped around the screaming fox creature until its entire form was sucked into the sphere.

"Did… Did it work?"

Kazuma asked as he stepped out of prison, courtesy of Zard breaking the glass bars.

The Scroll Ball hit the ground and remained motionless.

Naruto, who had just opened another hole in the door, released a sigh. Good… Looks like it was-

"Naruto! Kazuma! I found that monster's weakness!"

Aqua exclaimed as she pushed her way past the startled shinobi and made her way to the center of the room.

"Hey, where's the… Don't tell me…! You guys already defeated it!?"

The Arch Priest shrieked upon seeing the Scroll Ball in Joe's hand.

"Yeah, I guess we just needed an opening to capture it. Which we managed somehow, thanks to Zard and Sult!"

Joe said and gave both of his monsters affectionate pats.

"What are you holding, Aqua?"

Naruto asked when he noticed Aqua holding something in her hands. It looked like it was made out of plastic, and had multiple colored buttons with symbols on them.

'Is that… A controller?'

Kazuma thought as Aqua snapped out of her shocked state.

"H-hmph! I went out of my way to gather that thing's weakness, but it looks like it was so weak that my secret strategy wasn't even needed! I knew it was scared of my godly power! Puhehehe!"

Aqua taunted while laughing into her hand, earning dull looks from the three boys.

Clink!

"Hm?"

Joe looked at the Scroll Ball in his hand and noticed a small crack on the object, causing the boy to pale. Because it was growing.

"That's not good-"

Pop!

The magic burst, knocking the Beast Tamer into Zard.

"Weak!? I'll show you all… Weak!"

Coco, now freed from the Scroll Ball, began to radiate with an ominous energy.

Sult lunged towards the monster, but a beam of pure white light shot straight through the ant's armored skull.

"Guh…! S-Sult!"

Joe screamed as Zard dragged him away from the battle, the pain of his severed Beast Bond hitting him like a stab to the heart.

"Look what you did, Aqua! Why'd you have to go and taunt her!?"

Kazuma barked as he hid behind Naruto.

"Eh?"

Aqua blinked, her hair flying back by a gust of wind. A hand lightly chopped her on the head, and she looked up to see Naruto grinning fiercely.

"Aqua, cast your buff on me. I'll take it from here."

The shinobi said and cracked his knuckles, his toad-like eyes centered on Coco.

That was light magic just now, so it was safe to assume that thing really did have all of Kiki's abilities.

Part of Naruto was glad this wasn't over, because now he was going to be able to let loose a little.

Aqua cast the Resistance buff on Naruto, and the blonde proceeded to put his fingers into a cross-like shape.

Five plumes of smoke appeared next to him, which was instantly blown away by the wind to reveal the small group of Shadow Clones.

'I guess the buff passed onto my clones as well… Interesting.'

Naruto thought when he noticed his doppelgangers were glowing just like he was. That at least saved them some time with the more buffs.

"You will… Know weakness…!"

Coco shouted and flicked one of its wrists, and all of the levers and buttons on the control desks began to move.

At that moment, five metal panels flipped open to which five Forbidden Beasts activated and stepped forward, their glowering red eyes shining brightly.

"Get back, everyone! Things are about to get a little messy…"

Naruto warned the group. It seemed peace really wasn't an option… But that was fine with him!

"DIIIE!"

Coco shouted and shot a beam of light at the shinobi, indicating the start of the battle.

Naruto picked up Aqua before he and his clones evaded the white projectile.

The clones engaged with the Forbidden Beasts, all while dodging the elemental barrage that Coco fired down from above.

Placing Aqua down behind a metal pillar, Naruto patted the girl on the head.

"I'll create an opening for your secret weapon, so stay here where it's safe until I give you the signal."

Naruto instructed with a calm smile, causing the girl's cheeks to heat up.

"I-I guess I'll follow your lead. When you see my secret weapon, you'll have no choice but to reward me with some ramen!"

Aqua crossed her arms and looked away with a huff.

"Mmmmm… I'll think about it."

Naruto responded with a cheeky grin before he returned to the battlefield.

Taking a quick glance to survey what was going on, Naruto noted that his clones were doing fine and had even managed to take down one of the Forbidden Beasts. Their enhanced senses with Sage Mode allowed them to attack and defend simultaneously. Kazuma and Joe also made it out of the room, so he didn't have to worry about them getting caught in the crossfire either.

In that split second analysis, Naruto decided to draw the attention of the boss to alleviate his clones from the added obstacle that came from the projectiles it was firing at them.

"Hey, monster!"

Naruto called out, earning a snarl from the kitsune clone. He then smirked and used the Transformation Jutsu.

"Bet you wish that scientist made you look like this, instead of that ugly wrinkly form of yours~!"

Naruto was now in the form of Naruko, but with the addition of orange fox ears and a couple fluffy orange fox tails whisked around behind him.

"Ohooo!"

Kazuma gaped at the sudden appearance of the literal girl of his dreams, but he was quick to avert his gaze when he noticed the scornful look Aqua was sending him.

The final straw was when Naruko winked at the Ultimate Monster, which caused a large vein to bulge on Coco's forehead.

"Enough of this… Nonsense!"

Coco barked and raised both hands toward its tail that was radiating that same black aura.

Naruto reverted back to normal, his face paling. He knew exactly what that was and needed to act fast.

Running up the side of a nearby pillar, Naruto formed a Rasengan in his right palm and kicked off with a burst of strength and speed.

The dark magic was still incomplete, but the speedy attack forced Coco to defend itself with the unfinished skill.

The spiraling blue sphere clashed with the purplish black mass, causing a shockwave to shake the entire structure.

As the techniques clashed, Naruto poured more of his chakra into his Rasengan as the enemy's skill continuously sucked it up. The very space around his arm began to distort, which was very disturbing to watch.

But it seemed that was the Ultimate Monster's limit as the dark magic burst, forcing the two back in opposite directions.

"Guh… N-now, Aqua!"

Naruto shouted when he hit the metal door, and he caught a glimpse of Aqua stepping out into the open with the controller in her hands before he hit the floor.

He just needed a second to catch his breath… Dark magic was powerful. Its very nature was to consume everything it touched. If he hadn't been in Sage Mode, he probably would have lost his arm.

"Alright, you monster! It's time for divine punishment!"

Aqua declared as she stared at the monster who was currently surrounded by the remaining Naruto clones.

Coco cursed. The Forbidden Beasts were destroyed, and it could sense the remaining automatons were slowly being taken down in the village.

But what was that device the goddess held in her hands?

"Why… can't I read… your mind, goddess…?"

Coco questioned, and before Aqua had the chance to respond a loud snort could be heard from the entrance.

"Probably because there's barely anything to read… Pfft!"

Kazuma chortled while giggling into his palm.

"K-Kazuma… That's mean!"

Joe said in an attempted scolding tone, but he struggled to suppress his own laughs.

Naruto smiled wryly. That guy truly held nothing back.

Aqua's face became redder than a tomato, tears threatening to come out of the corners of her eyes. But all of that anger disappeared when she realized what she held in her hand.

"Oho~? To think I was going to offer to let Kazuma borrow this controller after I used it to defeat that monster. But I've changed my mind."

The goddess said and pressed the green button on the object.

Kazuma raised an eyebrow as a sixth panel in the back of the room opened, and a humanoid figure stepped out into the open.

"T-that's…!?" x2

Both Kazuma and Coco's eyes bulged out of their skulls.

It looked like a woman, but its skin was unnaturally flawless. It had short black hair and wore a pair of glasses. The android's black leather outfit looked like it was straight out of a novel written by Ero-Senin himself.

"W-w-w-wait a second, Aqua! We can talk about this! I didn't mean it! If you give me that controller, I promise let you have first dibs on the treasures I found here!"

Kazuma pleaded and quickly covered Joe's eyes.

"Treasure!? Deal!"

Aqua chirped and skipped over to Kazuma, plopping the controller onto the boy's eager hand.

'Yes! Alright, let's see what this baby can do-'

Crack!

The moment Kazuma tapped on another button, the android brandished a whip and flicked its wrist. The tip slapped the door mere inches away from his face.

"...Eh?"

Kazuma meekly said, his face losing all color again.

"Are you my sensei? What are you doing? Procrastinating again? Do you wanna die!?"

The android barked and cracked the whip again, causing the boy to squeal in fear.

"N-no! I'm not your sensei! S-she is-oof!"

Kazuma said and tried to give the controller back to Aqua, but the girl stepped out of his reach. This caused him to fall through the hole and into the room.

"Are you still trying to run away from your responsibilities, sensei? Do I need to talk some sense into you!?"

The android continued, and stretched the whip in its hands in a menacing fashion.

"Eeeek! N-no! I'm not like Darkness! H-help me!"

Kazuma screamed as the android now loomed over him, its stone cold metallic eyes staring down at him with an expression that shouldn't have been physically possible for a robot.

Why was no one helping him!? Why were they looking at him with such pitiful expressions!? He really wasn't into this sort of play!

But just as the android reached out to grab him, the controller began to glow and was lifted into the air.

"R-run… my beloved…"

Coco whispered as the controller fell into its hands, earning a surprised look from the adventurer.

"W-what? You…"

Kazuma stuttered, but the monster cut him off.

"Nothing can stop it… It is immune to my powers… I will sacrifice myself so that you… Can escape…"

Coco continued before pressing a button on the controller, which drew the android's attention.

"C-Coco-san… I… Huh?"

Kazuma was hesitant at first, but that was before he noticed the massive blush growing on the monster's face. It was an expression he was all too familiar with.

"Y-yes… Huff! Huff! I can feel something deep inside of me… Telling me that this is my fate…!"

The Ultimate Monster's breaths turned ragged, and it got on its hands and knees as the android walked over to it.

Kazuma's lips became a thin line. That's right. This thing took after its creator-

"Are you my sensei?"

Crack!

"Ahn~! Yes~!"

-who was a complete masochist.


The group filed out of the Forbidden Cave before they began their trip back down the mountain.

No one looked back.

The sun was beginning to set, and it was a collective wish to bathe and hit the hay as soon as they made it back to town.

"Hey, what happened to Leek?"

Naruto asked when he realized the sleazy man was nowhere to be found.

"My apologies… After Aqua-sama and I retrieved the relic from Leek, he managed to escape through a one way door that only seemed to open for him."

Roaric responded with his head held low.

Naruto hummed but left it at that. He doubted Leek would show his face in Nuzloft again, not after his failed attempt at taking over the place with the Forbidden Beasts.

"Oh yeah, here. You also have something that belongs to me. I would like that back."

Kazuma suddenly said and held a scroll up to Naruto, who looked at it questioningly.

"I guess I did take one of your scrolls by mistake. Here."

Naruto replied and after handing Kazuma the scroll, the shinobi opened the scroll to find what looked like a white Scroll Ball and a note.

Resisting the urge to groan at having to read another note, Naruto skimmed through it before he realized who it was from.

Hey kid, I left this with the Succubi because I was heading out to my meeting with Alderp. I still don't really see the point to this thing, but the great Jiraiya doesn't do anything half-assed so I used the best Sealing Jutsu at my disposal. Go crazy, I guess. Anyways, once you return, I was thinking we'd go on another trip, you and I. With all the rumors floating around about you becoming a Hero Candidate, I think it's only natural you go and spread your name throughout the Royal Capital. Don't go destroying another mountain, unless you want to make that cute receptionist angry again!

-Jiraiya The Gallant

Naruto smiled upon finishing the letter from his mentor, but then he looked at the Scroll Ball and frowned.

"This would have been useful earlier… I'm not really sure what to do with it now."

"Y-yes… I concur."

Kazuma stuttered while doing his best to avoid the shinobi's gaze. Luckily, the blonde didn't seem to realize he'd known about the contents of the scroll so he was in the clear.

But the thought of an even more powerful Scroll Ball was exciting. To think Ero-Senin actually made one at his request! It would become the second Satou family heirloom-

"Here you go, Joe."

Naruto said and handed the Scroll Ball over to the younger boy.

"What!? But that one was made by Ero-Senin! It belongs on a pedestal! In a museum! What if it gets dirty!?"

Kazuma raged while shaking the shinobi back and forth.

"S-stop! What do we even need it for, huh!? I don't plan on catching anymore monsters, and you don't seem like you want to become a Beast Tamer! So a stronger Scroll Ball like that would be wasted on us!"

Naruto barked back as he struggled against Kazuma's grip.

"Now now, you two. Let's stop arguing and give Aqua the treasure she deserves."

Aqua interjected and greedily snatched a scroll from Kazuma's pocket.

"Ah! Wait! A-at least let me go through it first!"

"No way! You promised I'd get first dibs!"

As the two ran down the mountain trail, Naruto chuckled and turned back to Joe who had a troubled look on his face.

"What's wrong?"

"Are you sure I can have this? It seems like it's precious to you and Kazuma…"

Joe asked while staring at the magic item wistfully. Unlike the normal Scroll Ball's green coloring, this one was colored white and had an "S" painted on it.

"Think of it as a celebration gift for becoming the Conqueror. Now, what should we call it?"

Naruto quickly waved the boy off and changed the subject. He was too tired for any sappy talk.

"It has an 'S' on it… and it's better than the normal Scroll Balls… How about the Superior Ball?"

Joe suggested, and Naruto hummed approvingly.

The "S" was probably meant to stand for Sage, but Superior Ball sounded more fitting.

"Perfect! Use this when you find a dragon, like the one your dad has."

"Oh! That's a great idea! Zard and I will go look for one first thing in the morning!"

Joe said and released his Lizard Runner. Hopping onto the back of his ace, the young Beast Tamer held the Superior Ball to the auburn sky.

"I may be the Conqueror of Nuzloft now, but our journey is far from over… Naruto! As soon as I find that dragon, I want a rematch! Roaric, you too-huh? Where'd Roaric go?"

Joe blinked when he realized the demi-human was nowhere to be found.

Naruto scratched at his whisker marks. He was so distracted by Jiraiya's note, he must have failed to notice the man leaving.

But he also wanted to face Roaric in another battle, and he felt that someday he would.


Night had fallen, but the town of Nuzloft was full of life with lights, shows, and fireworks as they celebrated their successful defense.

Even from the side of the mountain where Mr. Leek sat and watched with leering eyes, the villagers showed no signs of stopping.

'Fools… Every last one of them… I could have led you all to greatness!'

But no matter. He would bide his time, and gain control of another Forbidden Beast before returning again. They couldn't prove he was the one who caused the attack, since he was going to ask that man to make them all forget.

"Kee! Kee! Kee!"

"!"

Leek was startled when he heard a strange noise from behind him, and he whirled around to see a figure standing in the shadows.

It was a man with blonde hair wearing a suit that was sloppily worn. Even in the dark, Leek could see the man's expression. It was dull, and completely void of all emotion.

A firecracker went off, and the extra light exposed the color of the man's eyes. Miscolored, one white and the other blue.

Creepy…

"Is that you, Max? About time you showed up! Things have gotten out of hand… I know my next payment to your boss is due, but hear me out…"

Leek stood up and dusted himself off.

Yes, this creepy man was none other than the point of contact between him and a certain man who was expecting great things from him.

In exchange for the use of Max's powers, Leek provided a great deal of funds. Funds that were eradicated thanks to that adventuring party.

"No money?"

Max asked, the pitch of his voice eerily high pitched in contrast to his emotionless face.

Another thing to note of this man; he was a complete dufus. Perhaps he was dropped as a baby a couple times. It would certainly explain his weirdly shaped head.

But Leek was able to put up with the imbecile because his power was the real deal.

The ability to manipulate memories… Yes, such a power was worth serving under a noble.

"No, Max. I do not have any money right now. It's because of the adventurers… Hey, what are you doing?"

Leek asked when Max stepped closer to him.

"No money… Alderp says no money… No service… No partnership…"

He mumbled, and for the first time in the months Leek had been working with this man, Max smiled.

Leek couldn't hear what the man was saying, but he was beginning to feel rather uncomfortable.

"I understand I might be out of line asking for an extension, but… Surely your master can understand that since a Hero Candidate was involved…"

It was no use, the buffoon wasn't listening. What was he babbling about now?

"No money… Do what you want with him, Alderp said… No partnership… No use for them, Alderp said…"

Max continued to mutter until he was standing in front of Leek.

The sleazy man wanted to take a step back, but he was already backed up against the edge of the cliff.

It was then Leek had a sinking realization as to what was going on.

No money, no use.

"W-wait a second, Max! I can still be useful to Lord Alderp! There's big money involved in Beast Taming, I swear! I only need to be put in charge and… and…"

Leek trailed off as he stared into the glowing discolored eyes of the man standing in front of him… No… The demon.

How had he not noticed until now? How else could Max have the power to have manipulated Roaric's memories into making him believe he'd lost to Leek? To make the chief make all of those terrible financial decisions?

What should he do? Run? Run to where? He had been relying on Max's power to change their memories of the villagers so he could return.

He was screwed.

"Hey… Can we be friends?"

Max suddenly asked, his head tilting to the side.

Friends? What was this buffon asking for? A partnership? Was Max asking if he wanted to overthrow Alderp!?

"S-sure, Max… I'll be your friend. As my friend, could you help me out? I'm in a bit of a bind and…"

Snap!

Leek's words trailed off when he heard a strange noise, and he looked down to see Max was holding his arms… That were now bending in a strange angle.

"Ah…! Ah…!"

Heart rate rising, Leek could only gasp as the pain in his mangled limbs began to flare up.

"Friend…"

Max said, his expression beaming with joy.

"H-help-"

Leek's screams drowned in the winds of the mountainside, unable to reach the celebrating village.


A/N: Kinda spooky chapter, all things considered. What did ya'll think of the secrets held within the Forbidden Cave?

Anyways, it's finally time to go back to Axel! Although, I wonder what Yunyun's been up to…

Spirit out!